Overstock’s .COnfusion

Josh Bourne ⬥ 14 November

Remember a few months back when online retailer Overstock.com started promoting a new domain name O.co? It began by touting it as its “new shortcut,” but recently launched an advertising push declaring “Overstock.com is now O.co.” It even had the name of the Oakland NFL/MLB stadium, the Overstock.com Coliseum, changed to the O.Co Coliseum.

But now, according to a recent article in Advertising Age, Overstock is backing off the O.co push, and returning to Overstock.com in online ads and television ads for the holiday season.

Overstock’s president Jonathan Johnson was quick to point out that the retailer is not abandoning the short domain altogether – rather, it is just “stepping back” from it temporarily. Apparently, even though consumers appeared to respond well to the O.co ads, many were confused when it came time to type the domain into their browsers. Instead of O.co, a “good portion” of consumers typed in O.com. Like all one-character .COM domains, O.com is not available for registration. So Overstock has decided it will continue its transition to O.co, just at a slower pace; for now it will use the domain for international and mobile efforts.

When .CO Internet S.A.S decided to open up .CO, the ccTLD for Colombia, to second-level registrations by any person or entity in the world in July 2010, some began claiming that it would be a good alternative to .COM. (Previously, entities had to register domains at the third level, using domains like Domain.com.co or Domain.org.co.) And yet, even with a retail giant actively promoting a .CO domain name, many U.S.-based Internet users still default to .COM.

According to Opportunity.co, more than one million .CO domain names have been registered, but that still pales in comparison to the nearly 100 million registered .COM domain names. In fact, many established companies registered their brand names in .CO as more of a defensive move to prevent cybersquatting. While some newer ventures opted to go with .CO (perhaps because the .COM version of their name was taken), it’s clear from the O.co case that the ccTLD hasn’t really caught on to the extent that some believed it would.

Tags: .CO Internet S.A.S, .com, Advertising Age, brand names, ccTLDs, Colombia, cybersquatting, domain names, Internet users, Jonathan Johnson, marketing, online retailer, Overstock

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